Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Sullivan’
Albert Einstein……………………………………………………John Dewey
Well, it turns out that while physicists and poets can kiss their most productive years good-bye when they are barely out of adolescence, philosophers and other types of humanists just keep ticking…peaking in their late 40′s and 50′s but with hardly any drop off after that. At least so says Dean Simonton, a psychologist at UC-Davis. The lead on this comes from a post on Andrew Sullivan’s site today,“The Age of Brilliance.”
Sullivan quotes a piece by Jonah Lehrer:
While physics, math and poetry are dominated by brash youth, many other fields are more amenable to middle age. (Simonton’s list includes domains such as “novel writing, history, philosophy, medicine”.) He argues that these fields show a very different creative curve, with a “a leisurely rise giving way a comparatively late peak, in the late 40s or even 50s chronologically, with a minimal if not largely absent drop-off afterward” (italics added).
Do I believe it? I guess it depends on how one measures “productivity,” among other factors. But it’s nice to know that one researcher in this area thinks that the twilight years can still be golden years for those engaged in studying philosophy or writing novels. (But then again, there are poets who have done their best work later in life. Perhaps we shouldn’t leave it to psychologists to evaluate these matters.)
Btw, John Dewey was in his mid-seventies when he wrote and published Art As Experience, which is considered by many to be one of his most important books. He published his, Logic: The Theory of Inquiry, a work of more than 500 pages, when he was nearly 80. Einstein, best work in his 20′s through his mid-30′s.
First, a brief reminder of how the Bush administration handled the crime of torture. Let’s call it “the few bad apples excuse.”
Yesterday, Wednesday, April 13, 2009 was a sad day for the Obama administration. The President decided to reverse his administration’s pledge to release photographs of acts of torture committed by Americans, photos that could be used as further evidence of how widespread state sanctioned torture had been under Bush. But it was not his decision to hold back the photos that was patently reprehensible. Obama argued that the release of the photographs could endanger our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and whether one agrees with this assessment or not, it has to be taken seriously. What is not acceptable, and what is not worthy of this president, is to suggest that those who committed these acts were only a small number of individuals. Once again this places the onus on those who actually carried out the acts as opposed to the leaders who ordered and sanctioned them. In other words, Obama used a version of the “bad apples excuse” to support his decision, which is just what the Bush administration did when the photos of Abu Ghraib first appeared
The New York Times reported on the president’s press conference announcing his decision in an article, “Obama Moves to Bar Release of Detainee Abuse Photos.” Two excerpts:
“The publication of these photos would not add any additional benefit to our understanding of what was carried out in the past by a small number of individuals,” Mr. Obama told reporters on the South Lawn. “In fact, the most direct consequence of releasing them, I believe, would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in greater danger.” (emphasis added)
The article then went on to quote a spokesman from the A.C.L.U.
Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the A.C.L.U., said the decision to fight the release of the photos was a mistake. He said officials had described them as “worse than Abu Ghraib” and said their volume, more than 2,000 images, showed that “it is no longer tenable to blame abuse on a few bad apples. These were policies set at the highest level.”
It’s not clear what Obama’s tactics are here. He is well aware of the previous administration’s culpability. Perhaps he has decided that keeping his hands clean and letting Congress handle the torture investigation is the path of least resistance, one that will allow him to pursue more important matters. But this maneuver doesn’t require him to assert the few bad apples excuse. The question is why he decided to make this specious argument. And he made it on the very same day that he said the following during commencement at Arizona State.
“In recent years, in many ways, we’ve become enamored with our own success, lulled into complacency by our own achievements,” he said, citing the economic crisis. “We started taking shortcuts. We started living on credit, instead of building up savings. We saw businesses focus more on rebranding and repackaging than innovating and developing new ideas that improve our lives.” New York Times, May 13, 2009, “Work Is Never Done, Obama Tells Class”
Read these words and think about Obama’s actions yesterday. Read these words and think about some of the “shortcuts” that he has been taking. (See Andrew Sullivan’s article, “The Fierce Urgency Of Whenever,” on Obama’s backsliding on the treatment of gays.) Read these words and think about the Obama brand. And ask, who is Barack Obama really speaking about when he speaks about repackaging? Rhetorical flourishes are not going to provide him with cover if there is too great a disjunction between his words, his other words, and his deeds.
Yes, Obama cannot be expected to remake the U.S. in a 100 days. The question is whether there is a misguided expediency at work, one in which the shortest path is assumed to be established lines in the sand.
We cannot let this slogan become merely a slogan. As per Obama’s request, we will remind him, hound him, when his rudder may need some work.
McCain: A Blast from the Past….He might have seen an Alien (and this is just one more thing that Sullivan doesn’t know)
[Here's a scoop that you won't find on Andrew Sullivan's site. He isn't sufficiently in tune with this stuff. Too much Oakeshott.]
Sometimes the familiar reveals itself in strange and wonderful ways when viewed in hindsight. Here is John McCain’s (in)famous anti-Obama ad “Celeb.” Not only does the line of attack seem even more ludicrous after the election, but take a good look at McCain’s picture as it “morphs” at the end. (Freeze framing the image is helpful here.) Tell me if you don’t think that he has just had a close encounter of the third kind, that he has come face to face with a “benevolent” alien? (His present claims about the stimulus package certainly suggest that he is out of touch, in a serious way. “What we need are more tax cuts, especially for the wealthiest aliens.”) Of course, it could simply be that Obama strikes him as an alien. I mean, he did refer to him as “that one.”
And while we are at it, let’s not forget how closely the Republicans, and John’s soul mate, George, have been to the aliens. When Obama gets through cleaning out the Justice Department, he should really have his people check this out.
“SPACE ALIEN BACKS BUSH FOR PRESIDENT”